Thurrell-Haskell Cottage ~ 61 Seaview Avenue
Thurrell Cottage - Circa 1903
Thurrell Cottage - Present Day
History of a Maine Cottage - by Dick Haskell
Until I retired, growing up and after marriage, we only came to Old Orchard Beach on vacations. I can only recall three summers I missed. Two were when I was in the army. As children, we only went on the rides on Wednesday as they were half price. There is nothing better for me than to come to Old Orchard Beach.
Built in 1888 by James Thurrell, a carpenter from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and his son Herbert, this Old Orchard Beach cottage is located at 61 Seaview Avenue on the corner of Central Avenue. The Thurrell cottage was built for Herbert’s wife, Lizzy, to improve her health. Lizzy’s Methodist minister was active in establishing the Tabernacle and campground facilities in the area, and she was happy to be close to both.
Herbert died in 1895 from pneumonia which developed as a result of a fire on the premises of his workplace. Widowed with four young children, Lizzy went to work as a seamstress at Robbins Brothers, a textile company in Portland, and rented out the cottage each summer for extra income.
At that time, the cottage consisted of a kitchen, dining room and parlor downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs. There was an attached shed which likely had a one-seater toilet, but later a flush toilet was added. Bathing for adults and infants was done in the kitchen, while younger members of the family would bathe in the ocean.
In 1940, Lizzy Thurrell passed away, leaving the cottage to her daughter, Lucy, who would spend every summer there. Eventually, in her later years and when her daughter-in-law, Bess, was widowed, they lived together in the cottage. Upon Lucy’s passing, Bess inherited the cottage. Bess lived there summers and, in 1975, when it became too much too care for, once again, the cottage was passed down – this time to Bess’s son, Dick Haskell and his wife Lyn. Though Dick assumed ownership, Bess continued to live at the cottage each summer, often joined by Dick’s own children.
In the early 1980’s, Dick Haskell addressed the numerous repairs that are inevitable in any older home. The cottage, which was originally built on cedar posts and cost approximately $1000, needed attention if it was to survive for yet another generation of children. A proper foundation was added (while there is rock all around the lot, fortunately there was none to be found where the new foundation was poured), a two story addition replaced the shed, the chimney and front porch were replaced, indoor bathrooms were installed, and the addition of a furnace and insulation allowed for year-round living.
Today, the cottage is owned by two great-granddaughters of Lizzy.